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Managing Engorgement

mom with two babies in her lap

Three to five days after giving birth, your milk supply increases.

That can cause engorgement, so can a missed feeding.

Watch a video on how to express breast milk. Apart from discomfort, the main concern is that - with nipples often flattened against a swollen, sore and warm breast, your baby may have difficulty latching on.

To help:

  • Start breastfeeding your baby right after birth and feed often, eight or more times in 24 hours. Nighttime feedings are important.
  • Before feeding, take a warm shower or place warm, wet washcloths on your breasts. Massage your breasts gently and express colostrum or breastmilk to soften the areola before feeding. This will make it easier for your baby to latch on.
  • Position and latch your baby correctly.
  • Breastfeed on the engorged breast first.
  • After feedings, try placing ice packs or a bag of frozen peas on your breasts to lessen swelling.
  • Some women find it helpful to put washed, dried and chilled raw cabbage leaves on their breasts or inside their bra. Use green leaves; red or purple may stain clothing.
  • Get as much rest as possible and drink water, milk or 100% juice when you’re thirsty.
  • Avoid supplementing with formula - this can cause engorgement.
  • Contact your public health nurse if you need more help.

Resources & Links:
Breast Engorgement 

VIDEO: Admission to Postpartum - Keeping Your Baby Skin-to-Skin
VIDEO: Baby's Feeding Cues and Behaviours
VIDEO: Breastfeeding Positions
VIDEO: Hand Expressing Milk
VIDEO: Latching Your Baby

Last Updated: August 13, 2013